July 26, 2013 Updated: July 29, 2013 at 11:16 am
A second Fort Carson soldier has earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in a 2009 battle at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, who served at Keating with the 3rd Squadron of the 61st Cavalry Regiment, part of Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team, distinguished himself in the Oct. 3, 2009 battle, the White House said in a news release.
Carter risked his life repeatedly during the battle, running through gunfire to grab ammunition and supplies for comrades, and rushing through a torrent of enemy fire in a bid to rescue Spc. Stephan Mace, who was wounded and pinned down. Others had tried to reach Mace and died in the attempt.
"He saw those others hit and expire, and he still risked his life," said Maj. Stoney Portis, who was Carter's troop commander that day.
The battle at Keating was the deadliest for Fort Carson soldiers since Vietnam, with an outnumbered cavalry troop facing hundreds of insurgents who rushed the outpost on the floor of a narrow valley in eastern Afghanistan.
Mace died after he was pulled to an aid station by Carter and others.
In February, Carter told the Gazette that he took Mace's death hard.
"Everything I trained for my whole life pretty much led to that moment," Carter told The Gazette. "And when he died, I figured that I had failed."
Carter, a native of Spokane, Wash., is now serving with the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash.
"When Mace was struck with a new volley of gunfire and pleaded for help, Carter decided he had no choice but to try to reach his fellow soldier," the Army said in its nomination for Carter's medal. "Knowing that he would almost certainly be killed, and with no regard for his personal safety, Carter jumped from the truck and sprinted forward to Mace. With small arms fire riddling the Humvee and the ground around him, Carter staunched Mace's bleeding and placed a tourniquet on his shattered leg. With enemy fire intensifying around him, Carter summoned the strength to lift Mace and carried him through the hail of bullets up to the rise and to the Humvee."
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama awarded a Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha for his actions at Keating.
Romesha, despite wounds, called in air support and attacked Taliban positions, saving lives during the daylong battle.
Carter, who was a specialist during the battle, has been on the brigade's radar for "quite some time," said Maj. Christopher Thomas, a spokesman for the brigade.
"When I first joined the brigade in the summer of 2011, they were still talking about it," he said. "I'm thrilled. It's a great honor for the unit. They will tell you that it's bittersweet because while they are certainly humbled to be given an award like that, it comes at a cost. It brings up a tough day for them.
"But I know these guys are committed and dedicated to the mission. That's why they keep going."
When Carter joined the Army in 2008, he'd already served a 4-year-hitch in the Marine Corps after graduating high school in 1998.
After leaving Fort Carson, Carter wound up back in Afghanistan in 2012, serving with the 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson, a Colorado Springs resident who heads the National Homeland Defense Foundation in Colorado Springs, said that a second Fort Carson soldier receiving a Medal of Honor was "very, very special" occasion.
"This is absolutely outstanding, not only for him (Carter), but for the community and Fort Carson," Anderson said. "For somebody to be singled out like this means that he did something extraordinary. We should be very proud here in this community. It's just a reflection of the quality of soldiers we have at Fort Carson."
Gallantry like that exhibited by Carter, Anderson said, is honed in soldiers from the beginning of basic training.
Soldiers "come into the Army as raw material," he said. "The Army system shapes them into a team and into understanding what their responsibilities are. I think that's exactly what happened here."
Anderson said he'd like to see Carter and Romesha recognized by the Colorado Springs community.
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